Michigan State’s starting QB remains unknown amid “fierce competition”


Michigan State’s new starting quarterback remains a mystery.

First-year head coach Mel Tucker on Tuesday declined to name a starter ahead of Saturday’s season opener against Rutgers (noon, BTN) in East Lansing and the team have not released a roster. depth.

“We won’t be calling a shift today,” Tucker said on a video conference. “There has been fierce competition in so many positions, including the quarterback. As this week unfolds and a game plan is set up, we’ll make a decision and then we’ll go and play.

Three-year-old starting quarterback Brian Lewerke graduated after last season and Rocky Lombardi junior redshirt, sophomore redshirt Theo Day and freshman redshirt Payton Thorne returned as stock quarterbacks. Noah Kim is a true freshman who only joined the program this summer, but Tucker included his name in the mix again.

“It’s a great group of guys and Noah Kim did a great job for us,” Tucker said. ” He has a lot of talent.

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Lombardi, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, has a significant advantage in experience. He has appeared in 16 career games and set a 2-1 record as a starter in 2018 as Lewerke struggled with a throwing shoulder injury. Lombardi has completed 42.9% (75-for-175) of his career passes for 812 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions and has 42 carries for 127 yards.

Day, 6-5 and 225 pounds, took on a red shirt as a true freshman in 2018. He was 2 for 3 passing 12 yards while appearing briefly in two games last season.

Thorne, 6-2, 210 pounds, didn’t play while taking on a red jersey as a true rookie last season and leading the Boy Scout team. Kim, 6-2 and 170 pounds, is a three-star prospect from Virginia who signed with the 2020 Spartans recruiting class.

All four quarterbacks work under new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson, who followed Tucker from Colorado to Michigan State in February. The process of installing a new offense was complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of all spring training sessions, two weeks of summer training sessions were wiped out, and the Big Ten pushed back the start of the season nearly two months.

“For Rocky, Payton, Theo and Noah… the most important thing was really to connect with Jay and understand his process, understand how he sees that position being played, and then learn the pattern,” Tucker said. “This is where these guys grew up. They connected with Jay, they have a lot of respect for Jay, Jay has a lot of respect for them, they work well as a team, they help each other out and I saw a constant improvement of this group. And that’s what you want to see in this position, you want to see guys who are team guys, who have leadership abilities, who aren’t afraid to take charge and i saw that in all these guys and i believe your quarterback has to be your # 1 contender on your team, college or pro.

“We have the competitive nature and the mental disposition in this room to be able to get the job done. I feel really good with what Jay has been doing and what he’s going to continue to do and how these guys are going to continue to grow under him.

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Johnson said on Oct. 2 he hoped to get a better idea of ​​where they would go in quarterback within a week or two, but admitted the competition could stretch into the season. That potentially means playing more than a quarterback against Rutgers, but Tucker did not provide a definitive answer when specifically asked about the possibility on Tuesday.

“We’re going to play who gives us the best chance of winning,” Tucker said. “We’ll just have to see how this week goes. The guys we have are very knowledgeable so we’re very fortunate to have several shifts that we think can get the job done.

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